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InsightsIn5: 4xi Thought Leadership Book Series: Part II

At 4xi, we believe in the constant quest for knowledge and learning, the importance of understanding the perspectives of others and learning from those perspectives.

The 4xi Thought Leadership Book Series continues with the second in the series, and 4xi's Chief Experience Officer in Residence, Tony Johnson, as he shares his favorite books and explains why they are important.

"Learning isn't just a process of reinforcing your own point of view but assimilating and blending with others."

I have always been a reader – and I have always fancied myself an author. The written word has always had a pull for me and although I don’t claim to have any artistic ability to speak of writing was where I found my calling a very long time ago.

I attended Ball State University because at the time they were regarded as one of the best journalism schools in the country and I had my eyes set on making my living with a pen, a typewriter, and later a computer.

"You can't tell which way the train went by looking at the tracks." - James Patterson

Even as my career took interesting and unexpected detours, I always maintained my love of reading and writing. As a lover of facts, opinions, and learning my focus was always more around non-fiction, but I do have a huge appreciation of prolific writers such as Dan Brown, Sue Grafton, Ian Fleming, and James Patterson who could spin a yarn across decades and keep us very entertained.

"Never job backwards. What might have been is a waste of time." - Ian Fleming

But I think there is also something special about sharing your favorite books with others – it shows your personality in a very different way and can also reinforce your vision of leadership, service, and business.

Here are my selections for the 4xi Thought Leadership Book Series. I hope you enjoy them, find value in reading them, and sharing them with others.


CREATING MAGIC is one of my favorite books of all time.

Lee Cockerell was a long-time Disney executive, and he is a masterful storyteller when It comes to bringing customer experience to life. I appreciate the way in which he approaches the idea of leadership and guest experience – in a very real and understandable way. I own this book in hardcover, e-book, and audio formats. It’s that good!

Cockerell reminds us that everyone is important and to be careful of what we say and do. It is a customer experience (CX) and business book all rolled into one (one fuels the other after all). He also offers valuable advice on customer focus, management, productivity, and growing your career. It’s a triple threat, as they say in show business.

This is a book that I read once every couple of years – or better yet, listen to on Audiobook as Lee reads the copy himself. It’s always such a treat to hear an author read their own work.


TOGETHER WE SERVE I wrote this book myself and is one of my proudest achievements. I thought long and hard about including this book on the list and I believe that every experience I had in the world of restaurants, corporate America, and consulting combined together to create this book.

I add this to the list because I am a teacher at heart and want to share my story, experiences, and ideas for success with you.

Through the lenses of Service Success, Customer Success, Leadership Success, and Executional Success I give you the roadmap to employee and customer experiences that will build loyalty and trust.


I remember reading OUTSIDE IN as I prepared for my Certified Customer Experience Exam many years ago. This book is a CX classic and so meaningful when it comes to understanding how to look at hospitality from the customer's point of view rather than the view of an organization.

This is at the heart of understanding your customer’s journey and the design of your experience strategy.


Bob Iger was the past CEO and Executive Chairman of the Walt Disney Company. Those who know me know that I love my Disney Parks and my nieces love Disney and Pixar movies.

THE RIDE OF A LIFETIME digs deep into Bob’s journey through ABC and then Disney with a type of candor that is refreshing and eye-opening. As I read about his struggles and his successes, it helped me look at my leadership in a slightly different way.

There was a great section about how he lobbied for the CEO job after Michael Eisner as you would a political campaign and it really did paint a picture of how to communicate value to others and to foster relationships along the way. My favorite chapter was hearing about his relationship with Steve Jobs and how they worked through a near disaster with Pixar


It sounds like a stretch to say that a book “changed your life.” But 10% HAPPIER did. Dan Harris was a reporter and anchor for ABC, and I watched him for many years on Weekend Good Morning America and Nightline. I also remember when he had a panic attack on national television and learned more of his struggles as I read his book.

Meditation is one of those things that everyone is talking about and is gaining more and more mainstream acceptance. My 4xi colleague Georgina Miranda has a mastery of the topic and we’ve had many conversations around mindfulness.

This book is a real peek behind the curtain of how to adopt a more mindful approach and to use mediation as a tool to quiet your inner critic – that inner voice that just won’t shut up and for which nothing is ever good enough. Harris shares how you can use it to bring a bit of calm to your life while not losing your edge.

And yes, I meditate every day – and while I’m not very good at it yet, I keep working to improve.

There were several honorable mentions: What Got You Here Won’t Get You There, Switch, Big Potential, and Be Our Guest – but I’ll leave those for my next installment.

If you see a topic that strikes a chord for your team or business, please let us know, 4xi Global Consulting can help. Don't forget to leave your book recommendation in the comments! 

Let's inspire the future together.

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4xi Global Consulting & Solutions is a team of talented leaders from both the client-side and service provider side creating an impact in the Human Experience (HX) for people at work, in education, rest, and at leisure.

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